The heartbroken family of a taxi driver and dad-of-five sprayed with a corrosive liquid by a passenger fear he may have been permanently blinded in the attack.
Muhammad Iftikhar, 43, is facing weeks in hospital and has completely lost his vision in one eye after the horror attack at the end of July, his devastated brother-in-law revealed.
A 15-year-old boy has been arrested after the “cowardly attack” on the hardworking dad in High Wycombe, Bucks., at about 1am.
Aftab Arif, 46, whose sister Asia is married to Iftikhar, said the family and their business UK Cars had been rocked by the terrifying attack.
He told The Sun Iftikhar had barely spoken since the assault.
Aftab said: “His left eye he has 100 per cent no vision. He’s just seeing blank.
“His right eye has gone down to 25 per cent vision.
“But he’s feeling stinging in his eyes and the doctors are saying that it’s a good sign.
“It’s just a waiting game.
“His face is fine, he’s got a few dots and a burnt lip.”
He described Iftikhar as the “backbone” of his family, supporting his four older daughters through university and becoming a dad again to a little boy just two months ago.
Aftab said: “He has been driving taxis for more than 15 years, it’s the first time he has experienced something like this.
“It’s a shock. It’s scary.
“He’s got four daughters and a two-month-old boy.
“The girls are independent and at university, he’s still the backbone, he pays their fees.
“Asia is shocked, she’s just running backwards and forwards to hospital, she was in a lot of tears last night.”
He said Iftikhar had been planning to watch his beloved niece get married in Manchester but could no longer go.
Police are appealing for witnesses and information about the attack.
They said three passengers got out of Iftikhar’s black Toyota Prius without paying, so he followed them.
They handed over the cash but one of the customers sprayed an “unknown substance” into his eyes before the trio fled.
A Thames Valley Police spokesman said a 15-year-old from High Wycombe has been arrested on suspicion of grievous bodily harm with intent after the attack.
Detective Chief Inspector Kelly Glister said: “This is an unprovoked attack on a working man who was going about his evening shift as a taxi driver.
“It is cowardly for a group to attack an individual, especially when they use a weapon.
“The victim is currently in hospital with serious injuries to his eyes.
“At this stage it is too early to establish what the substance is that was used to attack him.”
She said the offenders were three black teenagers aged between about 16 and 18.
DCI Glister said it was believed to be an “isolated incident”, but police were “determined to find the offenders”.
She added: “The force will also be working with taxi companies to provide reassurance and personal safety advice following this cowardly attack.”